“the creative mind plays with the objects it loves.” -carl jung
working in a grid format i began collecting images and textures that i was responding to. i enjoy seeing how different colors and textures play off of each other. sometimes these kinds of collages start to take on their own meaning. a quick biography of sorts.
1. a weathered piece of wood i found in the basement of my first apartment on Bathurst Street.
2. a flannel square from the a quilt made by my nana, Hannah Irene Legrow.
3. an excerpt from a 1950′s book on how to speak spanish, i love the font.
4. one of my favourite shirts.
5. red circles drawn by me.
6. photo of a woman cut out of Chatelaine Magazine circa 1952.
7. cursive writing paper from a newsprint notebook.
8. a page from another notebook teaching the alphabet.
9. a flash card from a set I picked up at a flea market.
The woods bring me back to myself. There is so much going on here all the time. I forget. So much busyness of a different kind. Busyness, not business. The world is waking up again after a long sleep. I find a roundish patch of grass (the snow has not quite melted yet in places), and crouch to listen. Dozens of geese yelling in the distance, a squirrel engaged in a battle with someone, a crow flies directly overhead, the sound of the pond melting (water dripping in all directions), lower to the ground I hear the sound made by hundreds of small bluish bugs flitting around in the dead grass. I pick a long strand of the grass and roll it between my fingers, feeling it’s crunchiness. I haven’t felt that in a long while. This is DIRECT experience of life. Nothing filtered through another lense, no reading about it in a book. Everything is calm amidst the busy-ness. Quiet. Everything is starting to grow again, and I am o.k. All of the panic disapates. I write a quote with my pen on a dead tree stump to my left, mouth tightening with concentration as I try to make the ink flow onto the porous surface.
“You have to give your life full attention as if your hair were on fire.” -deshimaru
I was going to add to my previous post about how I have started to feel like the internet has turned into a kind of popularity contest where it seems that people are competing for attention in a rather obvious manner. About how I am frustrated about this fact, and the fact that there appear to be many cliques that form, no different than my bad memories of high school. And about how when I started writing here I wanted it to be a creative outlet for myself, a forum for my ideas and experiements, (and yes, a promotional tool, I won’t lie about that). And how, as previously mentioned, many times I have fallen prey to thinking entirely too much about the audience, (which in my opinion does not make for great art), but in a public forum becomes hard to deny over time. Especially with a medium that is interactive. I never wanted to feel like I was competing with others, I only wanted to get things out regularly. I was going to vent about these things.
And then I read an story by Anne Lamott in which she talks about having an “Enemy Lite”, the mother of her 8 year old son’s friend, who she found to be competitive, overly warm and friendly, arrogant, show offy, snooty, and all together too perfect. Realizing that this kind of lashing out at another is really self destructive behaviour, she tries to find a way to love her and forgive her for her misgivings. To no avail. After several months she has a brief moment of epiphany when she bends down to put on her sons shoe (while visiting this woman’s house), and notices that she is looking into the shoe of the other boy’s to “see how my kid lined up in shoe size.” And a light goes on. She is projecting all of her feelings of inadequacy, her need to be a better mother, her fears, her competive nature, her self-contempt onto this other person. It is all her stuff! “The veil dropped. I got that I was mad as a hatter.”
So I started to see that some of my problems with ‘the internet’ were actually reflecting my own stuff back to me. My own competitiveness, my need to be heard, my wanting to be popular. There it all is, the truth, sitting in it’s not so beautiful glory.
“Aha!” she said reluctanly.
I am attempting to spend less time on the internet these days, (notice ‘surf the web’ did not make it onto the list.) I find it to be eating up large chunks of my time, time that might be better spent on other things, things on the list for example. I realized that my daily blog list is as long as a good size dissertation. In some ways it has become just as consuming as television, which I cut out completely a year and a half ago. The main reason being I started to weigh the value of the experience, what was I getting from it? Did it fulfill me in some way or was I just watching mindlessly? The answer for the most part was yes and so I turned it off as an experiment. I also wanted to really notice how mass media made me feel. I discovered that I was responding emotionally to a lot of news stories and in the course of a day I could expend a lot of energy this way.
I like to try things as ‘experiments’, it doesn’t sound nearly imposing as, “I’m quitting.” The result is also that I don’t feel deprived of the thing, but instead more like I always have a choice in the matter and right now I’m choosing to opt out to try something different. To see what will happen, how it will affect my life.
Truthfully I get a lot from other creatives on the web, I love reading about other artist’s processes, getting inspired, making friends or finding an illustrator that kicks my ass. What I’m striving to cut down on is the mindless connecting, the moments when you look up and realize you have been reading about something you really care nothing about for the last hour.
I want to be conscious about what I’m taking in. I want to nourish my brain and psyche a bit more, give it some love.
(I will still be posting regularly.)
It always takes a small (or large) crisis of sorts to show you that you are not taking care of yourself in the best of ways. In every crisis there are always a number of “messages”, things that can help us tune into ourselves. Then once again you learn that there are things that you could be doing on a regular basis to help you heal.
The physical things, drinking more water, taking vitamins, regular exercise, eating well, etc. The emotional things, in my case, using my voice, expressing emotions, learning to trust, relinquishment of control. Each of us has our own recurring themes, the walls that we come up against again and again.
Once again I find myself needing to know how everything will turn out, instead of just allowing myself the experience of living it. I fight desperately to find some kind of security in this world. But does it really exist? I think the experience of growing up with a mother who had a life threatening illness meant that in order to survive I had to find a way to create my own safety. I wanted to make her well, and in the end I actually took on her illness. I truly believed that if I could stimulate her brain enough then the tumor in it would shrink. It seems a bit silly to write that but there you have it. Even now at times I wonder if there were things I could have tried, therapies, etc. When she died I tried desperately to create a completely secure environment, one that was bulletproof, my home, my family, my community. I wanted to be entirely self sufficient at all times, grow my own food, get off the grid, financially sound, not have to depend on anyone or anything for my life. All potentially beautiful things, but in them an inheirent distrust of my ability to deal with things as they arose. I wanted every base to be covered beforehand.
But as I am learning now, life does not play out like a chess game. It is no longer serving me to be thinking six moves ahead trying to account for the things I do not know. I do not/did not have a cure for cancer.
The things I do not know. numerous. infinite.
The thing I am learning. I am strong, competent, powerful, and creative. I can and will be able to deal with any situation that arises in my life. No matter what it is. I CAN be content with the not knowing. Even though I don’t like it right now.
and I will repeat these things to myself over and over until I feel them in every inch of my body.
“…she sings from the knowing of los ovarios, a knowing from deep within the body, deep within the mind, deep within the soul.” –Clarissa Pinkola Estes
You will do foolish things, but do them with enthusiasm. –Colette
A little cranky today, not enough sleep last night with some pms thrown in for good measure. But the sun is out. The sun! How I missed you so.
On days like today I feel like doing something totally outrageous and new…
like wearing a turban for a week, or dying my hair blue, or moving to Morrocco.
i feel like staging a mini revolt against my known world. paint the trees, glue strange objects to the ceiling, sleep in a hammock, cover my dining room floor with grass, change my name (preferably to one of the one word variety).
you see i have a rebellious nature. and winter has outworn it’s welcome.
I like the idea of changing my appearance so that my closest friends would not even recognize me. Take on another persona for a few days.
Jeff and I were browsing in a bookstore the other day and found ourselves laughing out loud at a book that suggested various things to do the change your everyday experience, (i can’t recall the title for the life of me). The only one I can remember now is “hurt yourself on purpose -pinch your arm as hard as you can for 10 minutes”. So I came up with a few of my own…
don’t shower for a month (document the process)
choose random themes for your day (ie. rubber day, staple everything day, day of transparency)
try keeping a marble in your mouth for 12 hours.
tell every stranger you meet it’s your birthday
wear two different shoes
on your way to work leave a ‘trail’, (crumbs, rocks, candy, etc)
take a vow of silence
put something small on your body somewhere and see how long it stays (ie. a pea behind your ear, a feather in your underwear).(from my husband)
dye all your food blue for a week.
name all your furniture (with human names, bob, freda, carl)
attempt to ‘bring back’ an outmoded fashion (ie. the top hat, gauchos, the sombrero, the michael jackson jacket)
create an indoor hopscotch game.
make a footprint stamp and track everywhere you walk in a day.
create a “made up” family album, out of photos you find of strangers.
wear safety glasses and ask people if they like your new frames.
give a lecture on a subject you know nothing about. Wing it. (from Mike.)
any to add?
The new issue of Bust is out. In it you will find an article in which I was interviewed by the talented Michelle Goodman, entitled “Wage Slaves -Day job schemes for girls with arty dreams”. I haven’t read it yet, but we spoke at length about managing a part-time job (and in some cases full-time) and still finding time to create, free-lance or even run your own business. I got very excited about the subject, having done it myself quite a bit (I worked at a bookstore part-time for the first five years of my career). In many ways I still find myself in the position of balancing making a living with doing the work I really want to do. Some of my regular free-lance work can be at times trying, and lacking in personal meaning. Though I do my best to find ways to make it my enjoyable, (experimenting with new ideas, mediums, colors, etc). And in between I work incessantly on my personal projects, (books, products, etc.) I do find myself in new position of seemingly attracting free-lance work that I really enjoy, (products, and articles I respond to, natural healing, children’s stuff, etc.), as opposed to the usual slew of computer articles, or business related imagery (which is admittedly not me).
One of the things I mentioned in the interview was the fact that in many ways having part-time work can actually fuel one’s urge to create, (granted one needs to preserve the energy to do it, working in a job that is not entirely draining physically and emotionally). I can remember jotting down ideas while working at the bookstore and being so excited to run home to start a project. My days off became precious gifts, and I never took that time for granted. I believe it had the effect of taking some pressure off, you don’t have time to think too much about what you want to create when you only have a few hours, you just do it. Sometimes too much time can be a hinderance.
An appropriate quote to this effect from “Reading Lolita in Tehran” by Azar Nafisi (which I’m loving by the way),
“It is amazing how, when all possiblities seem to be taken away from you, the minutest opening can become a great freedom.”
“There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” –Leonard Cohen
A while back I came up with a guerilla art exercise that I wanted to share with you. On a piece of paper write or type in bold the word NOTICE, followed by a visual item, a color, a sensation, a sound, something you find in your neighborhood. The idea here is to tune people into things they might be missing, or to just give them a little respite in their hectic day. Post the note. Here are some of my examples,
Finding it incredibly hard to get started today. The drawings and ideas are stuck in my body somewhere and do not want to come out. I should be used to this feeling by now, of not knowing where to begin, of having too many ideas, of feeling like my drawings are mediocre. I fight it for a few days, and it passes. Like the winter I feel long and drawn out. I need some warm weather to get me excited about things again. I wore my straw hat to work today (around the studio), hoping to feel springlike. It made my head itch as I sat watching the snow fall outside the window. I think I am going to post some of these notes around my neighborhood in an effort to shake some things up a bit, (and as chalking is still out of the question). I smile reading Claire talk about being in the midst of a heatwave and longing for cooler weather.
Contrast is what makes life so very interesting. Without it we would not value things nearly as much.